The Death of the Dining Room

Maybe I’m hearing about Sarah Susanka’s The Not So Big House lately, or maybe Susanka’s book about living without wasted space is emerging in the collective cultural consciousness as a legitimate “thing.” Maybe all us Gen Xers are finally able to live in the houses we want because we have money. And we always hated the formal dining room – hated the dusty wallpaper, hated the stiff chairs, hated formal Sunday dinner, hated walking past that dark and serious room on our way out to play in the street.

Whatever the reason, I’ve been noticing that the formal dining room is going the way of the dinosaur. HGTV’s “Bang for your Buck” recently featured a kitchen remodel on an M Streets home where the owners decided to pull their long dining table into their kitchen, eliminating a separated, dedicated dining room altogether. I recently interviewed a Lakewood family that did the same thing. Then yesterday I interviewed Mary Williams, an Oak Cliff resident that just moved into a remodeled 1920s cottage, where the builders had intentionally designed the room immediately off the kitchen – the room that would traditionally be the dining room – to be flexible. It could be used as a dining room or a family room, and the builders wired it for a TV on one wall. When I asked Williams what she intended to do with the room, she didn’t seem inclined to use it as dining room. She wasn’t fond of rooms that collect a lot of dust.

Here is where I admit to writing a blog post primarily to highlight a quote that cracked me up. Think of it as a post-script. I asked Williams if she was going to hang a TV on the wall that had been wired for such. She explained that she doesn’t really watch TV, and hasn’t for a very long time. She then said that when Nixon resigned, the TV went on the fritz. And since then she just never saw the need to invest a whole lot of time or money on television. There’s something delightful to me about a TV going out with the Nixon administration.

Maybe the dining room is going out with the Bush administration. I hope some cultural anthropologist in the future will make that far-fetched conclusion. That would be delightfully absurd.


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The Death of the Dining Room

Maybe I’m hearing about Sarah Susanka’s The Not So Big House lately,...
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  • keith

    Well Laura did catch quite a bit of flack for buying all that new china as they were on their way out.

  • alexarch

    I’m hoping the intimacy is found in the in-between moments – when you playfully hit your partner in the thigh during a commercial break, for example.

  • sunnyB

    I think it’s a combination. We’ve moved our dining into the tv room and our tv habits are increasingly being encroached upon by our laptop, web-surfing habits. What is unfortunate about all of this (no, not that we are so casual that we put our feet up on the same table that we eat off of…our mothers would be so upset) is that this also means that we’re sacrificing the dining room conversations for facebook. Where’s the intimacy?